9 Grand Historic Hotels in San Francisco

San Francisco is brimming with history, with many historic hotels to show for it
San Francisco is brimming with history, with many historic hotels to show for it | © RICOWde / Getty Images
A city with a storied and rich cultural tapestry, San Francisco holds no shortage of hotels with an intriguing historical background. From gold rush capital and hippie haven to business hub, the city has held on to its many guises over the years and weaved them into its present-day character. The result is a captivating city full of exciting things to do and multiple cultural and historical outposts that you could spend days on end exploring. Keep the history lesson going with a stay at one of the city’s oldest boltholes, each one as alluring and storied as San Francisco itself.

San Francisco Proper Hotel

Hotel, Boutique Hotel
Deluxe King Rooms feature contemporary decor and plush king-size beds, Proper Hotel
Courtesy of San Francisco Proper Hotel

Housed in a structure reminiscent of New York’s famous Flatiron Building, the San Francisco Proper Hotel is an effortlessly trendy hotel that ranks among the city’s hottest spots. The Kelly Wearstler-designed interiors are eclectic perfection, bringing just the right amount of contrasting patterns. The cherry on top is the uber-chic rooftop bar furnished with black-and-white-striped couches and an enormous firepit, making it a dreamy place to while away a few hours, cocktail in hand.

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The Marker

The Marker stands proudly in the middle of downtown San Francisco
Courtesy of The Marker

Founded in 1910 as the Bellevue Hotel, the Marker is a vibrant hotel that dutifully pays homage to its 20th-century roots. Retaining many Art Deco-influenced aspects, the interior works to complement the opulent Beaux-Arts exterior. Look around you to discover the city’s artistic history carved into the hotel’s core – each meeting room is named after characters and actors from the classic film noir movie, The Maltese Falcon (1941), which was shot in the neighborhood.

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Great Location, Modern, Stylish, City, Design, Boutique

Chateau Tivoli

Bed and Breakfast
Courtesy of Chateau Tivoli / Expedia

Cutting a striking figure, not unlike a sort of Candyland palace, the Chateau Tivoli has been turning heads since 1892. Originally a private home, the structure has had a colorful history over the years – from operating as a cultural center for the Yiddish Literary and Dramatic Society to functioning as an important site for the New Age movement in psychology. Today, its Victorian splendor is fully restored, giving you a gilded backdrop for a stay packed with stories aplenty.

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Inn at the Presidio

Hotel, Bed and Breakfast

Built in 1903 to house unmarried officers of the US Army, this red-brick building has a storied history and lies in the Presidio, which also has a compelling past. Nowadays, the hotel has the air of a countryside manor, full of elegant leather furnishings, a muted color palette and warming fires perfect for curling up next to with a good book. Waking up to the rolling fog slowly clearing to reveal the Golden Gate Bridge shining brightly makes for an ethereal start to your day, providing seriously enviable views to go with your morning coffee.

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Kimpton Sir Francis Drake

Suite Hotel, Chain Hotel, Hotel
Courtesy of Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Hotel / Booking.com
Roaring 1920s vibes manifest in every nook and cranny of this hotel – from the gilded palatial-style interiors evoking images of Versailles to the sweeping ornate staircases and heavy drapery. Built in 1928 during America’s financial boom, the hotel drew politicians and celebrities alike, doubtless adorned in their finest jewels, gowns and tuxedos. Fast-forward nearly a century, and Kimpton Sir Francis Drake still transports you back to that period of excess wealth and opulence. Don your most elegant attire, head to Bar Drake, grab a martini and toast to the glamor of yesteryear.
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Phoenix Hotel

Boutique Hotel
Musicians regularly stay at the Phoenix Hotel after playing at a nearby concert venue
Courtesy of Phoenix Hotel / Hotels.com

The Phoenix Hotel is a rock’n’roll legend, starting its life in 1956 as a very traditional American motel that just so happened to attract some of the biggest stars in music. David Bowie, Neil Young and Kurt Cobain have all spent the night here, providing the hotel with one or two juicy anecdotes to tell guests when they check in. Recently revived by hotelier Liz Lambert, the interiors stay true to their musical roots, with vintage concert posters on display and an expansive record collection found near reception, while rooms are kept modern and simple to give you all the comfort and space you’ll need.

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Hotel Whitcomb

Courtesy of Hotel Whitcomb / Booking.com

The Hotel Whitcomb is located in Downtown SF, conveniently near hotspots such as the Theater District, SoMa and Union Square. Take in the high-ceilinged lobby with polished Italian marble columns and dramatic Austrian crystal chandeliers, and sip on classic cocktails, wine and craft beer in its bar. After the 1906 earthquake devastated the city, the Hotel Whitcomb was constructed to serve as a temporary City Hall, until it was converted to a hotel in 1915.

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Palace Hotel

Courtesy of Palace Hotel / Hotels.com
Built in 1875, the Palace is one of the oldest hotels in the city, but it is far from stuffy or outdated. A 2015 renovation updated this living legend with clean, modern styling while maintaining its original elegance and opulence. Enjoy a variety of room options from the stylish superior room to the spacious suites. Don’t miss out on the hotel’s Signature Tea in the chic but timeless Garden Court, where you can also enjoy a sumptuous breakfast buffet or a luxurious brunch of caviar and champagne.
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Nob Hill Hotel

Courtesy of Nob Hill Hotel / Booking.com

Nob Hill Hotel was established in 1908 but has since been restored to its original state while managing to preserve its remarkably colorful rooms, where bright-patterned wallpaper and linens make for a visually striking experience. Union Square, the Theater District and Chinatown are all within walking distance. Make sure to take advantage of the complimentary wine and cheese happy hour each evening from 5:30pm to 7pm, as well as the imported wine selection at the hotel’s Colombini Bistro.

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This is an updated version of a story originally created by Justin Hsuan.

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These recommendations were updated on July 6, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.